Help celebrate annual "National Pollinator Week" June 17-23
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, pollinators are responsible for 1 out of every 3 bites of food that we eat. It's estimated that animal pollinators like bees, butterflies and bats are needed for the reproduction of 90 percent of flowering plants. Unfortunately, the numbers of both native pollinators and domesticated bee populations are declining. According to the U.S. Agricultural Research Service, populations of honeybee hives in beekeeping operations across the United States continue to decline.
Participating in National Pollinator Week - designated 6 years ago by the U.S. Senate - can help. This annual observation provides an opportunity to celebrate the valuable ecosystem services pollinators provide, learn more about bees, birds, butterflies, bats, and even beetles, and lend them a hand through our gardening, landscaping and land management practices.
What you can do: Plant native plants
Because of the way agriculture landscapes are developed today, there's often a lack of native bee habitat and forage near farms. Adding native plantings to improve pollinator habitat in your yard or landscape is one way to help.
Oregon natives to consider include Tall Oregon grape, an early blooming sun lover, Wedgeleaf or Redstem Ceanothus, Oceanspray with its foamy white flower clusters, Red flowering currant for its ability to attract hummingbirds, and Nootka Rose. Oregon crabapple, Bitter Cherry, Thimbleberry, Yarrow, Showy Milkweed (for its ability to attract bees and as a food source for monarch butterflies), and Goldenrod, a late summer bloomer, are other helpful choices. Note: some of these plants are most easily found at nurseries specializing in native plants.
Land managers and family forestland owners can help enhance pollinator habitat by providing connectivity between vegetation areas via corridors of perennials, shrubs, and trees. Add native plantings to stream side areas. Also, as much as possible, remove invasive species and lawn areas.
The Oregon Department of Forestry currently provides technical assistance to rural landowners enrolled in the Conservation Resource Enhancement Program (CREP). Under this Farm Service Agency agricultural program, ODF works cooperatively with other program partners including the Natural Resource Conservation Service, Soil & Water Conservation Districts and local watershed groups to help landowners plant trees and shrubs along streamside buffers.
"These plantings provide shade and cooler water temperatures that benefit fish, and also provide a variety of vegetative species that benefit insects and wildlife," says Steve Vaught, Incentives Coordinator for ODF. "Control of invasive species is a requirement of participation in CREP," he adds. Where pesticides must be used, carefully follow all product label instructions; the label is the law.
Know your Ecoregion
Developed by the U.S. Forest Service, Baileys Ecoregions of the United States is a management tool system created to predict responses to land management practices throughout large areas.
You can find out your ecoregion - and the native plants that are unique to it - by entering your zip code online, at: http://www.pollinator.org/guides.htm
Download the new "BeeSmart" phone app
A mobile version of the nationally acclaimed Ecoregional Planting Guides, it's the only phone app dedicated solely to planting for pollinators. Its easy user interface supports browsing through a database of nearly 1,000 native plants.You can filter your plants by bloom color, plant type, the kinds of pollinators you want to attract, and light and soil requirements. The app is free and available now for Android and iOS (iPhone, iPad, and iPod).
Other flowering plants that support nectar and pollen throughout the growing season include California poppy, Blue Flax and Yellow Lupine. Plants to attract butterflies: Wallflower, Purple coneflower, Black-eyed susan. When planting, locate flowering plants where they have full sun and are protected from wind. Wet mud areas will provide butterflies with both the moisture and minerals they need to stay healthy. Hummingbirds are other good pollinators. To attract them to your yard or garden, include Giant or Eastern Columbine, Perennial Lupine, Four O'Clocks, Annual Phlox, and Scarlet Sage.
Resist the urge to have a totally manicured lawn and garden; leave bare ground for ground nesting bees, and areas of dead wood or leaf littler for other insects. Wherever possible, reduce the use of pesticides in your garden to help you in your efforts. Contact your local county extension agent or native plant society for help with questions or concerns.
To learn more
BeeSmart phone app: http://pollinator.org/beesmartapp.htm
CREP: For more information on the CREP program please contact your local USDA Farm Services Agency office.